LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 01: Romelu Lukaku of Everton celebrates his goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and West Ham United at Goodison Park on March 1, 2014 in Liverpool, England.

Everton 1-0 West Ham United: Romelu Lukaku is back with a bang (video)

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West Ham’s five-match unbeaten run was brought to an end by Everton on Saturday, with the Toffees taking all three points thanks to Romelu Lukaku’s first goal since the end of November.

As expected, Roberto Martínez’s side took the game to West Ham in the first half, playing their brand of attacking football…and being thwarted by Sam Allardyce’s belief that the best offense is a good defense.

To Big Sam’s credit, he did appear to make a tactical shift before 30 minutes were up, replacing Carlton Cole with Andy Carroll. But Carroll had little impact, what with Everton maintaining 75% possession in the first half. Their best, or at least prettiest, chance came in the 39th minute. Gerard Deulofeu, proving himself to be an awfully tricky player, snaked through the West Ham defenders to grab a little bit of space, but put his effort wide from 30 yards out.

Little changed in the second half. In the 55th minute, Tim Howard managed to save a shot from Andy Carroll. Kevin Nolan had an attempt after the resulting corner, but that was about it in terms of West Ham’s attack.

It took almost the entire match, but eventually Everton were able to break down the dogged West Ham defense. And who else but Romelu Lukaku was the man to do it? Martínez introduced the striker at the hour mark, but with the Irons still intent on closing down the Toffees’ attack, it took some time to make an impact. The goal came in the 81st minute. Leighton Baines sent his pass through a mass of claret-and-blue kits inside the area, with Lukaku there to pick it up, smashing the ball through to the center of the goal.

Everton: Howard, Baines, Distin, Coleman, Stones, Deulofeu (McGeady 73), Naismith (Barkley 85), McCarthy, Barry, Osman (Lukaku 59), Piennar

Goals: Lukaku 81′

West Ham United: Adrian, Demel (Reid 80), Tomkins, Collins, McCartney, Noble, Nolan, Taylor, Jarvis (Diamé 66), C.Cole (Carroll 29), Downing

MLS Snapshot: Colorado Rapids 1-2 Real Salt Lake

SANDY UT - MARCH 14: Olmes Garcia #13 of Real Salt Lake celebrates his goal during their game against the Philadelphia Union at Rio Tinto Stadium on March 14, 2015 in Sandy, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
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The game in 100 words (or less): Real Salt Lake stays alive in the hunt for a playoff berth in the Western Conference with a crucial 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids. After falling behind early, RSL scored twice before halftime and held onto the lead for the rest of the match, moving within three points of the final playoff spot in the West. Real Salt Lake has three matches remaining, including a massive clash against the Portland Timbers, which will pretty much decide their season. For Colorado, it’s another year without playoff soccer.

[ MORE: FC Dallas clinches playoff berth ]

Three moments that mattered

16′ — Doyle heads Colorado into the lead — The former Premier League man gave the home side an early lead, thanks to a powerful header from quite a bit out. Sean St. Ledger played in a cross, where Doyle snapped a header into the top corner past Nick Rimando.

33′ — Joao Plata bends in the free kick — Trailing 1-0, Joao Plata drew RSL level with a brilliant free kick. Plata’s shot dipped over the wall and under the crossbar, as Clint Irwin stood helpless in goal for Colorado.

43′ — Mulholland fires home a volley to put RSL ahead — Luke Mulholland scored his first goal of the season, and it was a beauty. A corner kick popped out to the midfielder at the top of the box, as he rifled a shot off the bounce and into the side netting.

Man of the match: Luke Mulholland

Goalscorers: Doyle (16′), Plata (33′), Mulholland (43′)

Wenger lauds team spirit following Arsenal’s big win

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Arsenal put on a superb performance against Manchester United today, flying out to a three-goal lead in the opening 20 minutes of the match.

[ RECAP: Arsenal 3-0 Manchester United ]

United was stunned by the fast-paced, free-flowing Arsenal attack, unable to recover from the Gunners’ early dominance.

All of this came on the heels of a disappointing loss to Olympiacos in the Champions League, after which many questioned manager Arsene Wenger and his side.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from Arsenal’s win vs. Manchester United ]

Following the big 3-0 win at the Emirates, Wenger praised his team’s spirit, saying there were outstanding performances throughout the side.

You go from Petr Cech up to Theo Walcott, and we had only outstanding performances. Sometimes we have that magic side in our game.

[Against Olympiacos] maybe we lacked a little bit of urgency and discipline, and that’s why we lost the game. But let’s not forget, last Saturday we won 5-2 at Leicester. Today we beat Man United 3-0.

[The players] have shown that we have an outstanding spirit in the squad. To respond the way we did after what happened to us, you need to have an exceptional spirit.

The Gunners’ performance today immediately silenced all the critics, as Wenger’s side put out on a display that many have been waiting for all season. The combination play of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott was brilliant, as Santi Cazorla continued to impress in the center of the midfield.

Wenger’s teams have not always been known to show strong heart and resiliency, but that’s exactly what they showed today against a Manchester United side that was in great form. Now sitting second on the table, Arsenal continues to climb up the Premier League.